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The word ‘blair’, or ‘blàr’, means ‘open plain’, and is found commonly throughout Celtic Scotland; for example, Blair Atholl and Blairgowrie. Nisbet records Blair of that Ilk, an ancient family in Ayrshire, receiving land as early as 1205 near Irvine. William de Blar was a witness to a charter of Alexander III to Dunfermline Abbey. Anderson asserts that the family was probably of Norman origin and certainly their martial prowess brought them considerable lands and influence. Sir Bryce Blair of Blair was executed by the English at Ayr in 1296. His nephew and heir, Roger de Blair, was a comrade-in-arms of Robert the Bruce and received royal favour after the victory of Bannockburn in 1314. The family continued to grow in prominence and made alliances by marriage with the powerful families of Kennedy, Montgomery and Cochrane. Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials of Scotland notes that on 18 May 1545 John Blair and his son Patrick were required to find security for their good behaviour after consorting was created a baronet on 26 December 1812 for his services as a physician to William IV. His son and heir, Hugh Blane, served in the Scots Guards at Waterloo three years later. The family continued in military service throughout the nineteenth century in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and then in the First World War where the last baronet, Sir Charles Blane, was killed in the naval Battle of Jutland, on 31 May 1916.

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